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Courtesy of Czechoslovak Legation, Culver Service, 
"The American Scandinavian Review/ 1 and Brown Bros. 







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Set up and printed from type. Published February, 1937. 

Printed in the United S fates of America 


The lecture which forms the nucleus o the 
present volume was delivered in the city of St. 
Louis on February 25, 1936. While this was 
only a matter of chance for the annual dinner 
of Kappa Delta Pi is held in the city chosen 
for the meeting of the Department of Superin- 
tendence of the National Education Association 
it was not at all unfit that a lecture dealing 
with the theme of this book should be given in a 
city the public schools of which have been out- 
standing for much more than a half century. 

The high repute of St. Louis in the field of 
public education is due in part to the devotion 
to the educational ideals which the German im- 
migrants, following the revolution of 1848, 
brought with them from the Fatherland, for 
they came at a time when the elementary schools 
of the German states were everywhere regarded 
as the best in the world, and they were im- 
mensely proud of the record. They came in such 

a capacity for demo- 
cratic leadership that they set the seal of educa- 
tional idealism, the threatened destruction of 
which (among other things) had led them to 
leave their native soil, upon the development 
and destiny of their adopted city. 1 

There was, however, an equally significant 
and probably a far more important factor in de- 
termining the unique status of St. Louis in the 
field of public education. In 1857, a Connecticut 
Yankee named William Torrey Harris became a 
teacher in the St. Louis public schools. Very soon 
he was made a grammar-school principal and 
later an assistant superintendent. In 1868 he be- 
came superintendent of schools. He held this 
office for twelve years, resigning to associate 
himself with Emerson and others in the Con- 
cord School of Philosophy. He left Concord in 
1889 and shortly afterward became United 
States Commissioner of Education, a subordinate 

even named one of the St. Louis streets after the Father 
of the Universal School, and the name is still there. It is related that 
a policeman (apparently from the Emerald Isle) was called to make 
a telephone report regarding a horse that had fallen dead in this 
particular street. He viewed the remains and looked at the sign, 
"Pestalozzi Street." He puzzled for a moment and then com- 
mandeered a sufficient number of the onlookers to drag the carcass 
around the corner to a street the name of which was in his pro- 
nunciatory range. 


governmental office which he distinguished by 
his services. 

Harris was a philosopher in fact the leading 
exponent of Hegelianism in America at this time. 
It was in St. Louis that Harris was converted to 
Hegelianism primarily through the influence of 
Henry C. Brokmeyer, a German emigre of 
colorful personality and quite remarkable men- 
tality. Together, Brokmeyer and Harris founded 
the St. Louis Philosophical Society, which was a 
center of light and learning in the eighth dec- 
ade of the nineteenth century. The Journal of 
Speculative Philosophy, established in 1867, was 
continued in publication until 1893. I* was ^ e 
first philosophical periodical to be published in 
America, and was contributed to by several men, 
beginners at the time, who later became out- 
standing in the philosophical field. This list in- 
cludes James, Dewey, Howison, Peirce, and 
Royce. I well remember as a college student 
picking up in the library a copy of the Journal 
of Speculative Philosophy and reading its in- 
spired and inspiring motto, "Philosophy can 
bake no bread but it can give us God, Freedom, 
and Immortality/' 


Harris was not an original thinker, but he left 
the impress of a great assimilative and interpre- 
tive mind upon the St. Louis school system. 
Probably the most important of his writings are 
not his philosophical essays, but his annual re- 
ports as superintendent of the schools of St. 
Louis. He read his philosophy into the schools 
of which he had charge. 

The present writer speaks feelingly and (he 
thinks) advisedly upon this matter. He was one 
of the first persons to make the problems of the 
common schools the problems of universal 
education a field of specialized study leading 
to the doctor's degree. He did this after two 
years 5 experience in teaching in a one-teacher 
village school in the Upper Peninsula of Michi- 
gan, a post that he had taken, for want of any- 
thing else, upon graduation from college in the 
midst of the economic depression of the middle 
'nineties. He received the doctor's degree in ex- 
perimental psychology from Cornell University 
in 1900, and at once sought a new opening in 
the public-school service. Application after ap- 
plication produced nothing more than good 
wishes. If he had not mentioned the fact that 

he was a doctor of philosophy he would have 
had much better luck, as he was informed later. 
Finally, however, he found a city school system 
that was willing to risk itself with an elementary- 
school principal who had a doctor's degree. The 
St. Louis schools found for him a modest but 
most welcome appointment. 



This, the eighth, volume in the Kappa Delta 
Pi Lecture Series is significant not only for its 
intrinsic worth as a panoramic historical sketch 
of common-school education but, especially, be- 
cause the annual lecture of which the volume is 
a revised version was delivered during the cele- 
bration of the Society's twenty-fifth anniversary. 
It was peculiarly appropriate that Dr. Bagley as 
co-founder of the Society should appear as the 
Society's lecturer on this occasion. For more 
than a generation a courageous and critical cham- 
pion of universal education as the firm founda- 
tion of national welfare, the author is noted here 
and abroad for his staunch support of the educa- 
tional philosophy which exalts common-school 
education as the agency now universally em- 
ployed for transmitting to the young the rich 
heritage of racial culture and directing the na- 
tion's children toward a mastery of the elements 

of the knowledge and skills essential to civic co- 


operation. It was Dr. Bagley's concern for bet- 
ter informed and more professionally conscien- 
tious teachers that quickened his support of the 
founding of Kappa Delta Pi as an honor society 
in education with a co-educational membership 
and high intellectual attainments as its purpose. 

A Century of the Universal School is first a 
succinct review of the rise and growth of uni- 
versal education in Germany, France, Great 
Britain and her dominions, the Scandinavian 
countries, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech- 
oslovakia, Japan, the Latin- American countries, 
and the United States up to 1900. Universal 
schooling is here viewed as essentially developed 
during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 
with beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. The author suggests that in the course 
of this development episodes and events of 
dramatic quality may be noted. A people's strug- 
gle for knowledge has so far failed to capture 
a playwright's imagination. It is a commanding 
theme for stage and screen. 

Progress toward universal education since 
1900 forms the second part of the author's re- 
view. Here are vivid, flash references to ele- 

mentary education in the American Southland, 
Russia, Turkey, Mexico, the Baltic "Buffer" 
States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), China, 
Iraq, India, Netherlands India, and the Philip- 
pine Islands. 

In Chapter III Dr. Bagley considers the, to 
him, most serious problem of American educa- 
tion today: how "to provide kinds of instruction 
that will make it socially profitable to keep in 
school the types of young people who, under a 
simpler form of social and economic life, would 
be wage-earners by the age of fourteen, sixteen, 
or eighteen." The problem is acutely serious be- 
cause as the machine increasingly reduces the 
need of manual labor provision must be made 
for the upward expansion of universal educa- 
tion as a form of preparation for more technical 
occupations requiring "human judgment and 
human deliberation" and, especially, as a means 
of guarding young people from mischief -mak- 
ing idleness. Already enrollments at the second- 
ary level have swollen beyond the strength of 
the high school to maintain high standards 5 in 
turn the quality of work in the elementary school 

is affected because all pupils must move on to 


higher levels until the compulsory age limit has 
been reached. Consequently education on the 
secondary level "can be socially a very expensive 
and a relatively ineffective process." There is 
food for critical thought in the author's further 
comment: "Our elementary system is now so 
weak, due in part to the lowering of standards, 
that school children in other English-speaking 
countries, age for age, do far better than Amer- 
ican children on achievement tests standardized 
in this country." 

In answering the question, "Has Universal 
Education Meant Progress?" the author finds it 
safe to conclude that in such countries as Eng- 
land, Scotland, The Netherlands, and Scan- 
dinavia universal schooling has been instrumen- 
tal in effecting desirable social change. The 
same appears to be true in France, Germany, 
and Japan. 

It is true, however, as is shown in Chapter V, 
that universal education has not been altogether 
successful in promoting social welfare. It has 
not prevented war j it has not effected equitable 
distribution of economic resources by restraining 
unfair capitalistic control. Perhaps too much is 

expected of universal education as one agency of 
human betterment. So far as control of public 
education by vested interests is concerned the 
author does not find such control widespread 
in the United States. In spots both capitalist 
and labor organizations have sought to influ- 
ence the selection of educational content. The 
author insists that a nation's schools should 
be free from propaganda whatever its complex- 
ion may be. In the elementary school, especially, 
most of the time "should be devoted to giving 
the pupils instruction and training in matters 
that are not controversial but fundamental." He 
adds, loyal to his seasoned convictions: "This, of 
course, is rank heresy under the dominant theory 
of American education, which does not believe 
that there are any fundamentals or that there is 
anything in the nature of an eternal value, which 
should become an essential part in the education 
of the young." Dr. Bagley insists that American 
teachers enjoy far more freedom than do teach- 
ers abroad, except in Great Britain and her over- 
seas dominions. Here is one treasure that should 
be protected from invading hosts of totalitarian 


The reader will find in A Century of the Uni- 
versal School a clear-eyed resume o the his- 
torical development of universal education, a 
scholarly interpretation of its significance in the 
growth of national life, a critical but optimistic 
evaluation of its weaknesses, and throughout a 
reflection of the author's widely known cham- 
pionship of the common school as the inalienable 
right of all people regardless of race, creed, or 
color, to the end that under its direction they 
may know their cultural heritage and learn how 
to apply it to the promotion of their progressive 
welfare. The author and the Society, which he 
has adorned since its establishment in 1911, 
share alike in the educational philosophy which 
seeks to maintain and to advance freedom of 
speech, liberality of thought, devotion to scholar- 
ship, and loyalty to the high ideals of universal 















An Address Given at the KAPPA DELTA Pi 
Anniversary Dinner the Twenty-fifth of Feb- 
ruary, 1936. 


JlHE school as such is a very old institu- 
tion as old, indeed, as civilization. As Isaiah 
Bowman has said, ". . . there could be no com- 
prehensive organization and development of 
any part of mankind into a civilization without 
the power to measure and record." * Writing, 
measurement, and computation are arts that 
must be mastered as such through the processes 
of formal education, and the school from the 
outset has been primarily concerned with the 
conservation of linguistic and numerical literacy^ 
The universal school and universal literacy, 
however, are very recent exemplars of social 
progress. 2 This paper is entitled A Century of 

1 Bowman, I.: Geography in Relation to the Social Sciences. New 
York, 1934, p. 4.0. 

2 Some of the earlier civilizations may have approached universal 
literacy; for example, the Abbasside Arabic civilization in the eighth, 
ninth, and tenth centuries, A.B., and the Hebrew civilization in the 
period of its greatest brilliance. 

the Universal School. In so far as this suggests 
that universal schooling is only one hundred 
years old the title is not literally accurate. Com- 
pulsory schooling was decreed by some of the 
German cities in the seventeenth century, and 
by some of the German states and by Scotland 
and Sweden in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. In most of these instances, however, 
it is very doubtful that the laws were rigorously 
enforced. The fact that the German states were 
airoused by Fichte in 1808 to a full determina- 
tion to establish a truly universal school suggests 
that the earlier efforts were only partially suc- 

Indeed, Frederick the Great, autocratic ruler 
though he was, apparently could not enforce 
compulsory schooling in Prussia for one 
reason, it has been rumored: while he bravely 
decreed that all teachers should be profession- 
ally trained, he insisted on having soldiers who 
were too old for military service round out their 
lives as schoolmasters, with results that were ap- 
parently not much to speak of educationally. It 
comes about, then, that the modern universal 
school in all civilized countries is essentially a 


product of the nineteenth and twentieth cen- 

Universal education in the modern meaning 
of the term has been closely bound up with three 
great movements in social evolution. The first 
of these was the Protestant Reformation. Luther 
and Melanchthon laid great stress upon uni- 
versal literacy as a prime essential if everyone 
were to read and interpret the Bible for himself. 
While this religious sanction was moderately ef- 
fective in encouraging schools in Protestant 
countries in certain of the German states, for 
example, as well as in Scotland, Sweden, the 
Netherlands, Switzerland, and colonial New 
England its success was far from complete. 
The second great force in the development of 
the universal school was the first Industrial 
Revolution. Power-driven machinery, the 
growth of urban populations, and the evolution 
of the factory system combined to make the de- 
mand for universal literacy far more compelling 
than were the religious sanctions of an earlier 
time. Along with this, of course, the third great 
movement in favor of the universal school was 
undergoing a marked development, namely, 


political democracy, with its gradual extension 
of the suffrage and the consequent demand for 
an electorate of trained and informed intelli- 
gence. " 


Important as have been the contributions of 
the Industrial Revolution and political democ- 
racy to the development of the universal school, 
however, it is well to note that the first really 
effective systems of modern universal schooling 
were organized among non-democratic peoples 
and at a time slightly preceding the appearance 
among these peoples of an industrialized soci- 
ety. It was Fichte, as we have said, who in his 
immortal "Addresses to the German People" 
convinced them and their rulers that the only 
hope of the German states in their exhaustion 
from the defeats of the Napoleonic wars lay in 
universal education. It was the practical idealism 
of a great educational reformer that made effec- 
tive the fervor aroused by Fichte's eloquence. 
This man was Pestalozzi. 

The history of education is sometimes re- 

garded as a rather dull subject of study. Yet it 
is replete with dramatic episodes, and among the 
most dramatic is that which is associated with 
Pestalozzi's influence upon the universal school 
in Germany. The story that is told may be 
apocryphal in spots, but I believe that it is es- 
sentially correct. It seems that Pestalozzi, in one 
of the early years of the nineteenth century, 
thought of Napoleon (then near the height of 
his power) as most competent to put into effect 
the ideal of the universal school. He journeyed 
to Paris and sought an audience with the First 
Consul, who was soon to become Emperor of the 
French dominions. At Napoleon's headquarters 
Pestalozzi sent in his name and a brief state- 
ment of his message. After he had cooled his 
heels in the waiting room for some time, an an- 
swer was returned. It was brief and to the point, 
"I have no time to talk with schoolmasters." 

As the story has it, Pestalozzi returned to his 
school at Burgdorf , and on hearing of his expe- 
rience one of his friends said, "That was too 
bad for you, wasn't it?" To which Pestalozzi 
replied, "Noj but it will be too bad for Napo- 
leon!" And, if we substitute "France" for 


"Napoleon," that is one of the truest prophecies 
on record. 

Unlike France the German states did turn to 
Pestalozzi for advice, and it was his practical 
idealism that determined the development of 
German education during a period that culmi- 
nated in the decided predominance of German 
culture which marked the second and third 
quarters of the nineteenth century, and in some 
measure the fourth quarter. In 1846, Friedrich 
A. W. Diesterweg, on the centennial of Pesta- 
lozzi's birth, made this statement: 

While the best men in Prussia, after 1 808, were 
laboring to effect a regeneration of their unfortunate 
country, King Frederick William the Third sum- 
moned C. A. Zeller, the pupil of Pestalozzi, to Konigs- 
berg with the commission of awakening the intellectual 
faculties of the people as the only dependence for the 
rescue of the country. The great Fichte had already 
drawn attention to Pestalozzi in his lectures and pub- 
lications at Berlin. Afterward the eminent minister, 
Von Altenstein, sent some young men to Yverdon to be 
trained. By these means and by means of the numerous 
publications of Pestalozzi and his followers, with some 
help from the pressure of circumstances, the Prussian, 
or rather the Prussian-Pestalozzian, system was estab- 


lished. For he is entitled to at least half the fame of the 
German common schools. Whatever of excellence or 
eminence they have, they really owe to no one but 
him. . . . His experiments have secured their world- 
wide fame to the German schools. . . . 1 

In 1870, it will be recalled, another Napoleon 
ruled France Napoleon the Third, sometimes 
referred to as Napoleon the Little. Wishing to 
make for himself a place in the sun, he declared 
on very slight pretext a war against Prussia. He 
was ignominiously defeated in short order by 
the first literate army that the world had ever 
known. When the Prussian commander. Count 
von Moltke, was asked to whom the victory 
should be credited, he did not mention his gen- 
erals or his own strategy. He answered very 
simply, "The Prussian schoolmaster won the 
war." The first Napoleon's insolent rebuke to 
Pestalozzi could not have been more logically 
avenged. It is most unfortunate, of course, that, 
with the prestige earned in the Franco-Prussian 
War, Germany should have launched upon the 
imperialistic ambitions which led her to discard 

1 From an abridged translation, published in Barnard's American 
Journal of Education, No. XI, December, 1857, pp. 

Pestalozzi's teachings and to direct elementary 
education toward purely chauvinistic ends, and 
ultimately to embrace the sublimely absurd 
racial theories which she is advancing today as a 
rationalization of the Hitler regime. 


In Europe, outside of the German states, 
progress toward universal education varied. It 
seemed that France might be one of the early 
European countries to adopt the universal 
school, in spite of Napoleon's rebuff to Pesta- 
lozzi. In 1833, by the Guizot law, primary 
schools were available but attendance was not 
compulsory, and in 1 840 Victor Cousin, who had 
been sent to study the schools of Germany, pub- 
lished his Public Instruction in Germany, which 
strongly recommended the adoption by France 
of the German system of universal education. 
The Falloux law of 1850, however, greatly 
weakened the schools established under tiie 
Guizot law. A heavy emphasis was placed upon 
religious education, and such fundamental sub- 
jects as arithmetic and history were made op- 


tional. It is small wonder that illiteracy rates 
among the French soldiers at the time of the 
Franco-Prussian War were so high that the liter- 
ate German soldiers found it easy to achieve a 
victory. In part as a result of the French defeat 
in the war and a recognition of what a literate 
army had meant to Prussia, elementary educa- 
tion was made universal in France in 1880. The 
laws of 1882 and 1886 completely laicized pub- 
lic education, but the religious orders were per- 
mitted to maintain their own schools. This privi- 
lege, however, was taken away by the law of 

Gambetta, the real founder of the Third Re- 
public, formulated his ideal of the French state 
in the phrase, "An Athenian democracy." In a 
quite real sense, the school system of France is 
a lengthened shadow of Gambetta. Even the 
elementary schools the schools for the masses 
reflect this ideal. Their program is limited in 
scope and it is uniform throughout the country, 
but with highly selected and well-trained teach- 
ers a relatively generous measure of funda- 
mental culture is brought to each generation, 
with results that will be deferred to later. 



England, like France, might have embraced 
the ideal of universal education at a relatively 
early date. A widespread interest in education 
was awakened by the development of industry 
and by the social unrest that followed the Napo- 
leonic wars. By 1782 the expansion of the fac- 
tory system and the consequent increase in child 
labor had led to the formation of the Sunday 
School Union. This organization promoted the 
establishment of schools which were in session 
on Sundays and sometimes also on Saturdays, 
and which combined secular with religious in- 

In the later developments, especially during 
the early years of the nineteenth century, the 
proposals of Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell 
played a large part. Each of these men, appar- 
ently independently, had conceived of essen- 
tially the same scheme for providing relatively 
universal education on the basis of what we 
should call today cheap mass production. The 
plan was simple enough. A mature and presum- 
ably well-qualified teacher would be put in 

charge of a school. He would train his first 
pupils up to a certain point. Then a second 
group o beginners would be admitted and these 
would be placed under the instruction of the 
first group, while the latter, in their spare time, 
would receive further instruction from the 
master. Since this process in theory could be re- 
peated ad infinitum, many highly intelligent 
people sincerely believed that the problem of 
universal education could be solved at slight ex- 

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, most 
of the virtues that may have been inherent in 
this "monitorial" system of instruction were 
pretty largely negated by the religious contro- 
versies which, in many of the countries at that 
period, complicated and delayed the develop- 
ment of the universal school. Efforts toward 
popular education in the Protestant countries 
had hitherto been the prerogative of the official 
state church. With the growth of nonconformist 
denominations, especially in England, the inter- 
ests of education were overshadowed by the 
claims of rival denominations for control. Lan- 
caster was a nonconformist 5 Bell was faithful to 

the Established Church. The outcome of the 
controversy was not a single national system of 
schools. The Church of England organized un- 
der the National Society on an elaborate scale a 
system of elementary schools for the poorer 
classes, and for some time Andrew Bell directed 
this movement. Lancaster's work was continued 
by the British and Foreign Society. Although at- 
tendance was not compulsory these two groups of 
schools, aided to some extent by governmental 
grants-in-aid and supplemented by nonsectarian 
philanthropic enterprises, made notable progress 
in reducing illiteracy} yet in 1 8 70 it was estimated 
that 1,500,000 children were not in school, or at 
least not in schools under government inspec- 
tion. It was in this year that local school boards 
were authorized to compel attendance and to 
pay the school fees of poor children. In 1880, 
compulsory attendance was fully established, 1 

interesting and almost forgotten **value" of literacy is re- 
vealed in the following comment on the situation in England to- 
ward the close of the fourteenth century: ". . . Few of the laity 
could read, and the law which existed in England till within the 
last twenty years [i.e., until about 1830], by which the severity of 
the statutes against felony was modified by what was called ^benefit 
of clergy/ shows how gradually the ability to read was extended 
beyond the religious orders. In early times, clergymen claimed the 
privilege of being exempt in certain cases from punishment by sec- 
ular judges. They appeared in clerical habits and claimed privile- 


In Scotland the development of a national 
system of education was less difficult than in 
England, in part because in respect o religious 
faith the population was far more homogene- 
ous, and in part because the people had fairly 
early acquired a deep respect for learning. In 
the last decade of the fifteenth century a royal 
decree required "all freeholders of substance" 
to send their heirs to school until they had 
"perfect Latin." It was the Protestant Ref orma- 
tioii, however, that awakened the Scots to the 
need for a system of education that would be 
as far as possible universal. Under the leader- 
ship of John Knox a Latin school was attached 
to each church in a town "of any reputation," 
and in the rural areas each parish was to have a 
teacher of the "first rudiments." This was in 
1650. Attendance upon these schools was not 
compulsory j schoolmasters gradually acquired 
a right to permanent tenure and in many cases 

gium clericals. At length the ability to read was of itself considered 
sufficient to establish the privilege, and all offenders who claimed 
their 'clergy* had to read a passage from the Psalms, which came to 
be humourously called the neck verse.' This was no merely theoreti- 
cal privilege, for the ability to read, absurd as it may appear, saved 
an offender in the first instance from the full penalty of his 
crime. . . ." Unsigned article in Barnard's American Journal of 
Education, No. XXV, June, 1861, p. 324. 


they were so lazy that parents would not send 
their children to them 5 in general the effective- 
ness of the system was far from what it might 
have been. Apparently as a result of educational 
decadence, crime and poverty increased. State 
aid and governmental inspection were intro- 
duced in 1839, and these improved matters. In 
1861 a law was passed which made the schools 
somewhat more independent of the church. In 
1872 Scottish schools were placed under the 
control of elected school boards and compulsory 
attendance was decreed. Today the Scottish edu- 
cational system ranks among the best in the 
world. ^ 


Among the British overseas dominions 
Canada, Newfoundland, the South African Un- 
ion, Australia, and New Zealand elementary 
education is free and compulsory, although only 
for the whites in South Africa. As early as 1 844 
Ontario placed her schools on a comprehensive 
basis. In 1891 the policy of free textbooks was 
established, only a few years after Massa- 

chusetts had adopted the free textbook system, 
setting a precedent in the United States which 
the other commonwealths were slow in follow- 
ing. In Ontario elementary education was made 
compulsory in 1871. Quebec for many years 
trailed far behind the other Canadian provinces, 
largely because of bilingual and religious prob- 
lems. It has, however, made notable progress in 
recent years. Newfoundland was long handi- 
capped by religious difficulties, and since 1876 
the government has aided four school systems 
Church of England, Methodist, Roman 
Catholic, and Salvation Army. In New Zealand 
each of the principal provinces established a 
school system between 1853 an( i I ^76, when 
the provinces were federated. In 1877 elemen- 
tary education was made free, compulsory, and 



Sweden, the oldest existing state in Europe 
and next to Iceland and England the oldest 
parliamentarian state, was one of the first coun.- 

tries to advance primary education to something 
approaching a universal basis in so far as con- 
cerns ability to read. In 1684 the government 
ordained that the rite of confirmation, which 
was necessary to marriage, could not be taken 
unless the curate was satisfied as to the ability 
to read upon the part of the applicant, whether 
man" or woman, and ". . . up to 1822, the peas- 
antry of Sweden was thought to be the most in- 
telligent [enlightened] in Europe." 1 Yet in 
1850, some 130,000 children between ten and 
fourteen years old were reported as being "edu- 
cated at home," which probably meant in most 
cases only enough instruction to enable them to 
satisfy the curates of their literacy, and of 270,- 
ooo children of these ages reported as enrolled 
in primary schools 40 per cent were being taught 
in "ambulatory" schools which in the more re- 
mote regions provided short-term instruction by 
itinerant teachers. Sweden's most significant de- 
velopment of the universal school began in 
1872 with the enactment of a compulsory- 
schooling law. 

1 Barnard's American Journal of Education, Vol. XVI, 1856, p. 



In the sense of possessing a great literature a 
knowledge and appreciation of which are widely 
diffused among the people, Iceland is one of the 
most highly civilized of all countries. In all 
probability since the invention of printing at 
least the literacy rate has been high. At the 
same time, organized formal education on the 
elementary level has not until recently been 
widely developed. Except in the few large 
towns, children have been taught to read at 
home by their parents or by visiting teachers. 
The latter institution, indeed, seems to have 
made an early start here as in the other Scandi- 
navian countries. 

The Icelandic language, which developed 
from the continental Scandinavian probably in 
the tenth century, has changed very little in the 
past millennium. As a consequence, even chil- 
dren, once they have learned to read, can enjoy 
keenly the great sagas which were written in 
the remote past 


In Norway a law enacted in 1739 ordained 
that the children of the peasantry should receive 
regular instruction in religion, reading, writing, 
and arithmetic. That this law was enforced in a 
way that would mean universal education is 
most doubtful. A law of 1827 authorized am- 
bulatory schools in the remote districts. In 1848 
a law was passed legalizing town schools. It was 
not until 1889 that a thoroughgoing system of 
universal compulsory education was established. 


In the fourth of the Scandinavian countries 
the universal school has had a most interesting 
history. Little Denmark in 1814 made education 
compulsory between the ages of seven and four- 
teen, and at the same time opened five normal 
schools. In spite of this favorable start, it was 
apparently very difficult to enforce effectively 
the compulsory-schooling law. As in Germany, 
it took a national calamity to make the educa- 
tional system truly effective. The War of 1848 

was followed by the more disastrous War of 
1864. In the hour of defeat the king and the 
people turned to one of the great educational 
leaders of modern times Bishop Nikolai Fred- 
erick S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), whose service 
to Denmark was much like Pestalozzi's service 
to Germany. Thereafter Danish education was 
"universal, practical, and democratic." 1 Unlike 
Pestalozzi's influence on German education, 
Grundtvig's influence in Denmark not only re- 
mains to this day but has become more and more 
pervasive as the years have passed. It is prima- 
rily responsible for the fact that Denmark in all 
probability has today the most effective educa- 
tional system in the world. The schools have 
literally transformed the Danish people. 
Grundtvig's teachings also have influenced pow- 
erfully the educational developments in Nor- 
way and Sweden. 

Grundtvig is best known, of course, as the 
father of the famous Folk High Schools of 
Denmark. He was interested primarily in the 
life of the peasants, a life which in his day was 

1 Foght, H. W.: Rural Denmark and Its Schools. New York, 1915, 
p. 19. 

drab and dull. It was his theory that the proper 
type of education could infuse a new spirit into 
the Danish folk life. He conceived of a school 
for young people (the Folk High School) 
which would be fundamentally cultural, al- 
though quite different from the secondary 
school of the time. The treasures of Scandi- 
navian culture would be taught in such a way 
that the people would come to love and cherish 
them. He would emphasize what we now call 
the social studies, as well as philosophy and re- 
ligion. Grundtvig was especially insistent that 
the teachers be able to use the "living word" 
fluently and with precision, although little of 
the instruction was given through formal lec- 
tures. Unlike Pestalozzi, Grundtvig did not 
himself put his educational theories into prac- 
tice, but his spiritual leadership bore fruit in 
one of the most remarkable educational devel- 
opments of modern times. 1 

It is noteworthy that Grundtvig's name does 
not appear in the index of any of the standard 
histories of education in English that I have 

1 At the present time there are 60 Folk High Schools in Den- 
mark, enrolling- 6,600 students out of a total population of ap- 
proximately 3,550,000. 


seen. His remarkable services to education are 
eloquently described in the late Ross Finney's 
A Sociological Philosophy of Education. I quote 
the following passage: 

During the half century just past the schools upon 
whose sacred altars this fire seems to have burned 
more brightly than perhaps anywhere else in the world 
are the Folk High Schools of Denmark. Visitors write 
of them with the utmost admiration 5 and immigrants 
who have attended them hold their memory as some- 
thing almost sacred. The secret seems to be partly in 
the spirit of Bishop Grundtvig, which lives on in his 
disciples, the teachers, and partly in the spirit of the 
times and nation. Grundtvig conceived his great idea 
during the period of depression following the Napole- 
onic wars: it was essentially a faith in a new knowl- 
edge as a means of national rehabilitation. But it was 
not until after the disastrous war of 1864, when 
Denmark was crushed, humiliated, and helpless, that 
Grundtvig's idea took root in the minds of his disciples 
and of the Danish people generally. But then it was 
accepted as a great national faith; and that faith seems 
to have grown ever since, as it has demonstrated its 
validity. Hence the Danish youth go to schools in which 
the teachers are of idealistic temperament and consecra- 
tion, and are imbued with a zealous faith in knowledge 
as the means of individual, social, and national salva- 

tion. And the schools bring forth their fruit accord- 
ingly. . . . 

The deepest necessity of American education is not 
a scientized technique, worthy and important as that is 
in its place, but something analogous to the spirit of 
Grundtvig and the Danish Folk High Schools. Our 
schools require a renewed faith in knowledge as the 
only means of a really satisfying life and permanently 
progressive society. Prerequisite to any such renascence 
is a deep, urgent, and very contrite sense of need. And 
there is plenty of occasion for such a feeling if only we 
had spiritual and social insight enough to realize it. 
For, individually, which of us is happy with the 
breakdown of religious beliefs and moral standards, 
with the disintegration of family and community life, 
with the rivalries of fashionable and fastidious living, 
and with the excitements of jazz and the bright mid- 
night lights? And as for our social outlook, it is only a 
smug, blind ignorance which can fail to see that, col- 
lectively, we are entering upon the most problematical 
period in recorded history, to say the least. What will 
the end of the twentieth century bring forth, with the 
world populated to the saturation point, with wealth 
concentrated as the present trends suggest, and with 
the resultant class and international conflicts rampant? 
If a sense of need is requisite to a national craving for 
a new knowledge there is indeed plenty of occasion. 
The time is fully ripe, therefore, for a second Grundt- 
vig, or for a whole school of minor prophets, who can 

open our eyes to the fact that only in the popular dis- 
tribution of knowledge is there dignity and worth of 
individual life, and a hopeful future for humanity. . . . x 


Finland may well be discussed in connection 
with the Scandinavian countries. Although the 
Finns do not seem to be closely related ethni- 
cally to the Swedes, Finland for a long time 
was a province of Sweden and assimilated much 
of its culture. When Finland was ceded to Rus- 
sia in 1808, it became a grand duchy with full 
autonomy in government. Whether because of 
the Scandinavian influence or because of some 
distinctively Finnish influence, Finland at the 
outset of the World War was easily the most 
highly literate division of the old Russian 

In 1866 a law was passed requiring every 
urban community to establish a sufficient number 
of schools to provide primary instruction for all 
children between eight and fourteen. Many 
rural communities established such schools vol- 

iFinney, R. L.: A Sociological Philosophy of Education. New 
York, 1928, pp. 

untarily and all were required to do so in 1898. 
Elementary education was made compulsory 
some time before the War. In 1920 only 0.7 
per cent of the population above the age of 
fifteen were illiterate. 



The Netherlands ordained free instruction in 
public schools in 1806, but effectiveness was 
handicapped by religious quarrels. In 1857 the 
public schools were completely secularized, but 
not until 1900 was elementary education made 
compulsory. In 1851 only 9 per cent of the pop- 
ulation was enrolled in the public schools. 1 In 
1857 tf^s proportion had risen to 12 per cent. 
Today the people of the Netherlands are among 
the most enlightened in Europe. 



Free and compulsory education was provided 
for by the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1874, 
but much earlier than this schooling was com- 

1 Barnard, H.: American Journal of Education, Vol. I, No. 3, 
March, 1856, p. 401. 


pulsory in all except the three most mountainous 
cantons. The development of the primary school 
dates from 1832 or 1833, following the over- 
throw of the old aristocratic oligarchies. 


Czechoslovakia has the good fortune to have 
as its great national hero a man who ranks with 
Pestalozzi as one of the projectors of the uni- 
versal school, although unlike Pestalozzi he did 
not live to see his dreams come true. Johann 
Amos Komensky usually referred to in Eng- 
lish writings by the Latin form, Comenius was 
born in 1572 and lived to the ripe old age of 
ninety-eight. As a bishop of the Moravian 
Church, which broke from Rome long before the 
time of Martin Luther, he became profoundly 
interested in the possibilities of organized and 
directed education. He made numerous con- 
tributions to progress in school methods and ma- 
terials, including the world's first illustrated 
schoolbook, Orbis Pictus. His plan for a national 
system of education included elementary schools 
in each community, secondary schools in larger 

political units, and universities in the largest 
units. Comenius became well known in other 
countries, especially England and Sweden, and 
it used to be said that he was offered in 1654 
the presidency of Harvard College. 1 

Comenius became not only a tradition among 
the Czechs but also, as has been said, their great 
national hero. 2 The provision of educational op- 
portunities was but an expression of their hero- 
worship. Before the World War, Bohemia was 

1 Cotton Mather, in his History of Harvard, College (1702), 
made the following statement: "Mr. Henry Punster continued the 
President of Harvard College until his unhappy Entanglement in 
the Snares of Anabaptism; filled the Overseers with uneasie Fears. 
. . . Which Uneasiness was at length so signified unto him, that 
on October 24, 1654, he presented unto the Overseers an Instrument 
under his Hands 5 wherein he Resigned his Presidentship, and they 
accepted his Resignation. That brave Old Man Johannes Amos 
Comenius the Fame of whose Worth hath been trumpetted as far as 
more than Three Languages (whereof everyone is Endebted unto his 
Janua) could carry it, was indeed agreed with all by our Mr. 
Winthrop in his Travels through the Low Countries, to come over 
into Neto England and Illuminate this Colledge and country, in the 
Quality of a President, which was now become vacant. But the 
solicitations of the Swedish Ambassador diverting him another way, 
that Incomparable Moravian became not an American." 

This Invitation" from Harvard College seems to have no basis in 
fact. In a remarkable bit of historical criticism, Will S. Monroe 
(Educational Revieto, vol. xii, 1896, pp. 37$if.) assembles most con- 
vincing evidence that Cotton Mather was mistaken. A later publica- 
tion, Young, R. F.: Comenius in England, Oxford and London, 1932, 
contains no reference to Cotton Mather, although several references 
are made to Harvard College, and to John Winthrop, the younger, 
and there are evidences of Comenius's interest in Harvard. 

2 Predominantly the Czechs are Roman Catholics. Yet their na- 
tional hero was a Protestant bishop. 


the most highly literate of the provinces of the 
Austro-Hungarian empire, and the other two 
Czech provinces, Moravia and Silesia, were not 
far behind. I have had no opportunity to study 
Chechoslovakian schools outside of Prague, but 
in every school building that I visited in the 
capital there was either a picture or a bust or a 
full-length statue of Comenius. A prominent 
official in the Ministry of Education at Prague 
told me in 1925 that he had never known of an 
adult illiterate of normal mind in the three 
Czech provinces of the present Republic of 
Czechoslovakia. 1 



Outside of northern and western Europe, 
North America, and the British overseas domin- 
ions 'in Australia, South Africa, and New Zea- 
land, the story of the universal school to the close 
of the nineteenth century can be told briefly. Eas- 
ily the most important and dramatic element in 

1 It is also interesting to note that Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, all 
in all, perhaps, the noblest character brought into high relief by the 
World War, the founder of the Republic of Czechoslovakia and for 
seventeen years its highly successful President, was by profession a 
scholar and a teacher. 


the story centers in Japan. Literate culture in 
Japan was apparently borrowed from China and 
Korea in the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. 
After this time schools were developed for the 
higher social classes, the scions of which received 
free education of a high order. With the gradual 
adoption of Western customs, the need of a 
Western educational system came to be recog- 
nized. In 1871 a commission was sent to Europe 
and America to study the schools of the leading 
Western nations. This commission recom- 
mended that Japanese education be modeled on 
the French plan. Inasmuch as the existing 
schools were free to the upper classes, the new 
schools were made practically free to all. The 
present school system dates from 1900. It is sec- 
ular and children must attend the elementary 
schools during the period of compulsory educa- 
tion which, since 1907, has been six years in 



In the Latin-American countries little was 
done to promote universal education prior to the 

twentieth century, although a valiant start was 
made in Argentina through the efforts of a most 
competent leader, Sarmiento, and in Uruguay 
through the efforts of Varela. 1 Both of these 
men were friends and admirers of Horace 
Mann, and in both Argentina and Uruguay 
graduates of American normal schools were em- 
ployed to introduce American methods of teach- 
ing. The frequent changes in government which 
were characteristic of the Latin-American peo- 
ples throughout the nineteenth century pre- 
vented a sustained development of sound 
educational policies. Conditions have greatly im- 
proved since the turn of the century. Today 
primary schooling is compulsory in Argentina, 
Uruguay, and Chile. The interesting develop- 
ments in Mexico will be referred to in a later 




We come finally to our own country. Here, 
too, really effective schooling on a universal 

1 Kandel, I. L. : Essays #* Comparative Education. New York, 
1930, p. 161. 


basis is a product of the past century indeed, 
of a period that is a bit short of a full century 
even in the most favored sections. Its history 
has been replete with dramatic incidents. Dr. 
Edgar W. Knight, of the University of North 
Carolina, was the first, I believe, to point to a 
very remarkable parallelism between periods of 
grave national crises and the beginnings of 
major educational advances. The development 
of the universal school in the German states fol- 
lowing the disasters of the Napoleonic wars is a 
case in point. France did not establish an effec- 
tive system of popular education until after her 
defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Denmark's 
educational awakening came in a period of na- 
tional disaster. One of our own major educa- 
tional developments had its effective beginning 
when, in the darkest hour of the Confederate 
War, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act 
providing for the endowment of the land-grant 

Our most important educational advances, 

however, have been associated not with war but 

with our major economic depressions. The first 

of these followed the financial panic of 1837. 


It was in this same year that Horace Mann was 
appointed Secretary of the Massachusetts State 
Board of Education. It was during the six de- 
pression years following the panic that Mann 
instituted what is known in our educational his- 
tory as the Common School Revival, as a result 
of which Massachusetts had in 1850 the best 
system of popular education on the Western 
continent and one of the best in the world. In a 
quite true sense, the universal school in the 
United States had its beginnings in the Common 
School Revival in New England. 

It was, however, only a beginning. It was well 
beyond the middle of the century before ele- 
mentary education could be called truly uni- 
versal in the north central states, 1 while the 

1 Each of these states on its admission to the Union had already 
a stimulus for the development of common schools and, further 
than this, an endowment for their development, in the section of 
the Land Ordinance of 1785 which provided that one section (640 
acres) out of every 36 sections (or out of every township) of what 
was then the Northwest Territory be set aside for the support of 
schools. Upon the admission of states carved from public lands out- 
side of the area covered by the old Northwest Territory, Congress 
made a similar provision for common schools (and eventually much 
more generous provisions). Yet the schools developed very slowly. 
Indeed, except in favored localities neither the actual cash value nor 
the annual rental value of the "school lands" would go very far in 
the support even of a one-teacher school housed in a rude log cabin. 
Nor were grandiloquent constitutional mandates ordaining the estab- 
lishment of schools any more effective than Federal land-grants. 
Indiana, admitted to the Union in 1816, made constitutional pro- 


southern states lagged so far behind that, out- 
side of the larger towns and cities, free schools 
even for the whites were not generally available 
prior to 1900. 

Among the most important happenings of the 
Common School Revival was the establishment 
of the first tax-supported schools for the educa- 
tion of those teachers whose work would lie in 
the common schools. Normal schools had been 
developed on a generous scale in the German 
states in the first quarter of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and the pervasive influence of the uni- 
versal school in Germany during the first three 
decades of the nineteenth century was due in 
large part to the fact that teachers were thor- 
oughly prepared for the service which was dele- 
gated to them. Other north European countries 
followed the precedent set by Germany. The 
Netherlands, for example, opened a normal 
school as early as 1816; Denmark even earlier, 
in 1814. It was not until 1839, however, that 
the Massachusetts legislature authorized three 

visions for an educational system as thoroughgoing as that proposed 
by Comenius two centuries before and as thoroughly effective at the 
time as was that of Comenius in his time. 


State normal schools, the first of which was 
opened at Lexington in 1839. In the following 
year, the legislature apparently regretted its ac- 
tion. Tax support for these schools seemed for 
some time to be doomed. It is significant that the 
efforts to disestablish these little and as yet un- 
housed professional schools should have been 
watched with intense interest by the friends of 
democracy in Europe. 1 Massachusetts was one of 
the first democratic states to decree that the ef- 
ficiency of the universal school depended upon 
the efficiency of its teachers. In the Edinburgh 
Review George Combe, in reporting Horace 
Mann's success in saving the normal schools, 
said that if the bill abolishing the State board of 
education and the normal schools had passed 
the cause of democracy "would have received 
its worst setback since the atrocities of the 
French Revolution." Henry Barnard, at about 
the same time, stated publicly that the failure 
of Massachusetts at this juncture would have 
delayed the development of American education 
a half -century, if not longer. As has been sug- 

1 See Mangun, V. L.: The American Normal School: Its Rise and 
Development in Massachusetts* Baltimore, 1928, pp. 2o6ff. 


gested, the history of education has not been 
without its dramatic episodes. 

Linked with the name of Horace Mann as a 
great apostle of universal education in America 
is that of Thomas Jefferson. In the latter part 
of the War for Independence, Jefferson intro- 
duced in the Virginia Assembly a "Bill for the 
more general diffusion of knowledge." The plan 
resembled in some ways that which Comenius 
proposed for Bohemia in the preceding century, 
although there is no reason to believe that Jef- 
ferson was familiar with the writings of Co- 
menius. According to Jefferson's plan, the State 
should develop a complete system of public ele- 
mentary and intermediate schools and colleges, 
with a State university as its capstone. Jefferson 
for more than two-score years struggled to have 
the Assembly adopt his proposals. In 1818, 
with much opposition, a law was passed estab- 
lishing the University of Virginia, %ut pro- 
vided only an ineffective, optional plan for ele- 
mentary schools." 1 

But if Virginia did not embrace completely 

1 Dabney, C. W.: Universal Education in the South. Chapel Hill, 
1936, Vol. I, p. viL 


the educational plan of her distinguished son, 
other states did, and especially the states that 
were admitted to the Union after the adoption 
of the Constitution. "The typical American 
school system, like the ideal system described 
by Huxley, is a ladder with one end in the 
gutter and the other in the university-" It was 
Thomas Jefferson who first visioned clearly this 
ideal and its significance, although Jefferson 
would have selected only the most competent for 
secondary and higher education. 

The opening of the twentieth century, we 
may say by way of summary, found schooling 
of the elementary type essentially universal in 
Germany} in certain parts of the Austro-Hun- 
garian empire (especially Austria and the 
Czech provinces); in Great Britain and the 
British overseas commonwealths; in the Nether- 
lands, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian coun- 
tries; in Japan; and in the Northeastern, North 
Central, Mountain, and Pacific sections of the 
United States. 





IN TERMS of the magnitude of the 
populations involved, the universal school has 
probably made more substantial progress since 
1900 than in any preceding period of similar 
length. The World War was responsible for 
much of this progress, but not for all. 


In the United States the turn of the century 
marked the beginning of a new era in public 
education in the South. A brilliant coterie of 
leaders, whose names should be enshrined upon 
the tablets of American history, were primarily 
responsible for this development. Among them 
were Edward A. Alderman, Charles B. Aycock, 


Charles W. Dabney, Alexander Graham, 
Charles D. Mclver, David B. Johnson, and 
J. Y. Joyner. In 1918 Mississippi passed a com- 
pulsory-schooling law the last of the forty- 
eight states to adopt such a measure. One should 
add, however, that in many states, including 
those of the South, compulsory-schooling laws 
are not strictly enforced in the rural areas, and 
in the South particularly enforcement has been 
very lax in so far as the Negroes are concerned. 
None the less, by 1930 adult illiteracy among 
the native-born whites, taking the country as a 
whole, had been reduced to 1.5 per cent, and 
among the Negroes to 16.3 per cent. 

Some of the southern states have made re- 
markable progress in recent decades. Maryland 
today is generally regarded as having one of the 
very best school systems in the country, and 
seems to have proceeded farther than any other 
state toward a solution of the rural-school prob- 
lem. Prior to the depression following the panic 
of 1929, North Carolina made a unique con- 
tribution to the practice of State school adminis- 
tration and toward the solution of the teacher- 
salary problem. South Carolina has the distinction 


of having a much larger proportion of college 
graduates among its elementary-school teachers 
than any other state. This has been due largely 
to the late David B. Johnson's farsightedness in 
the development of Winthrop College, 1 South 
Carolina's only teacher-training institution for 


The most astounding post-war development 
of the universal school is to be found in two 
countries that had been before the War among 
the most backward in the world Russia and 
Turkey. The elementary schools of the Soviet 
Union were really started in 1920. For twelve 
years they were operated upon the basis of the 
most radical proposals of the Progressive school 
of educational theory. They were called "activ- 
ity" schools. There were practically no text- 
books. Learning was supposed to be motivated 
by the social problems of the day. Generally 
speaking, the teachers had no authority to main- 

X A sketch of Johnson's early efforts will be found in Dabney, 
C. W.: Universal Education in the South. Chapel Hill, 1936, pp. 


tain discipline. In 1932 it was decreed that this 
theory be completely abandoned. "Systematic 
and sequential" learning based upon textbooks 
was to replace the more informal types of learn- 
ing 5 teachers were authorized and empowered 
to prevent disorderj and a system of periodic 
formal examinations was instituted. The period 
of compulsory schooling was also lengthened. In 
1932 to 1933, 98 per cent of the children be- 
tween eight and seventeen were in school a 
record to be envied by the most enlightened 
nations. For many years, too, systematic efforts 
have been made to reduce adult illiteracy. 


In some ways, the educational and cultural 
development in Turkey has been even more re- 
markable than that in Russia. The schools were 
reorganized in 1926 soon after the revolution 
which rid Turkey of the Sultan and his harem. 
The blueprint for the development of schools 
was prepared by John Dewey, and the schools 
reflect Dr. Dewey's ideals, I believe, far more 
faithfully and certainly far more effectively 


than did the schools of Russia prior to what the 
Soviet leaders refer to as the educational "revo- 
lution" of 1932 and 1933. Especially significant 
has been the provision of schools for adults in 
Turkey. When the Western alphabet was 
adopted in 1928, every person between the ages 
of fifteen and fifty who was unable to read and 
write was required to attend school six nights 
each week until he or she could qualify for the 
government's literacy certificate, and then to at- 
tend school six nights a week for a year to study 
the problems of civic education. As a result it is 
reported that the number of literate adults was 
trebled in five years. A large program of school 
building has been carried on year after year. In 
1932 in the single province of which Smyrna is 
the capital 150 new schoolhouses were erected, 
and the program called for 150 in the year fol- 
lowing. This, it may be remembered, was at a 
time when the richest country in the world was 
closing schools by the hundreds and Turkey 
is still as poor as the proverbial Job's turkey. 
It is significant of the enlightenment of the 
Turkish government that Mustafa Kemal in- 
vited thirty-five Jewish professors exiled from 

Germany at the beginning of the Hitler regime 
to take chairs in the University of Istanbul. 


Another country which has witnessed a re- 
markable development of the universal school 
in the present century is Mexico, Here the 
growth of the movement has taken place almost 
entirely within the past twenty-five years in 
other words, since the revolution of 1910. The 
most significant developments began in 1920 
with the "new regime" of Obregon. The ad- 
vice of John Dewey and the services of his 
followers were instrumental in the establish- 
ment of a system of rural village schools based 
upon the life and work of the local com- 
munity. In these village schools there is no 
instruction in reading at first, the primary em- 
phasis being laid upon health and community 

The rural schools are supported in the main 

by the Federal government, the measure of 

support being determined by the efforts of the 

local communities, which in any case must sup- 


ply the buildings. The control is in the hands of 
the Federal authorities, a fact which has made 
possible the remarkable development under the 
inspiration of Gamio's idealism. The States sup- 
port and control education in the towns and 
cities, and here in general these schools follow 
the European model. 

Elementary education is still far from uni- 
versal in Mexico, but progress is being made. 
Here as elsewhere the chief handicap is the lack 
of competent teachers for the rural schools. 

In spreading the type of rural school de- 
veloped by the Federal government and in im- 
proving the teachers a most significant institution 
has been organized. This is said by Professor 
Mabel Carney to be Mexico's unique contribu- 
tion to the theory and practice of modern edu- 
cation. The reference is to the Cultural Mis- 
sions, which date from 1923. 

The Cultural Missions have some resem- 
blance (especially in purpose) to the old teach- 
ers' institutes of the United States, but they 
seem to be vastly more effective and comprehen- 
sive, since they are directed to the improvement 
of the community as a whole through improve- 

ment in health and play, work and leisure, as 
well as instruction. Each mission consists of a 
group of special workers who pass from com- 
munity to community, remaining from three to 
six weeks in each and carrying on an intensive 
course of instruction, demonstration, and (par- 
ticularly) inspiration. 

The organization and conduct of the missions 
are well illustrated by the following excerpts 
from "The Cultural Missions in 1927," by Pro- 
fessor Rafael Ramirez: * 

The personnel of this [the second] Mission was 
definitely constituted as follows: 

Director of the Mission and instructor in Methods 
of Teaching Professor Rafael Ramirez 

Instructor in Soapmaking and Perfumery Profes- 
sor Isaias Barcenas 

Instructor in Tannery Professor Rafael Rangel 

Professor of Home Economics Severa Quintana 

Besides, two agricultural specialists had charge of the 
classes of agriculture, stock-raising, and apiculture, and 
a master carpenter directed the class in woodworking. 

1 Official Report of the Secretariat of Education* Mexico, D. F., 
I9*7> PP' **ff- (English translation, typewritten, pp. 4ff., on file in 
the Department of Rural Education, Teachers College, Columbia 


After three weeks of intensive work, after a brilliant 
exhibition, which was much visited, of the work that 
was done, and after a closing celebration attended by 
Dr. Bernado Gastelum in his capacity as General 
Agent of the Ministry of Federal Public Education, 
and Professor Roberto Medellin, Ranking Officer of 
the same department, the Mission returned to the capi- 
tal of the Republic sure of having left a deep track in 
the social life of the city of Cuernavaca. 

The courses of this Mission were attended not only 
by the Federal rural and primary teachers but also by 
all the teachers supported by the State government. 
Moreover, many persons of the general public, of both 
sexes, enrolled in all the classes which by their practical 
nature might be of immediate use to them. 

Encouraged by the success attained in the two previ- 
ous experiments the high authorities of the Ministry 
planned for the winter of that same year, 1924, similar 
work on a larger scale and of wider scope. Six Mis- 
sions were organized, each composed of a director, a 
teacher of small industries, a teacher of music, one of 
physical education, a female teacher of home economics, 
a doctor for the instruction of hygiene and vaccination, 
and a competent instructor of methods of teaching so 
that the teachers gathered together to receive the 
courses might have an opportunity to see the theories 
exemplified in demonstration classes. . . . 



Along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea the 
post-war treaties recognized three small "buffer" 
states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Here, 
prior to the World War, the people for cen- 
turies had been ruled successively and alter- 
nately by German barons and by Russia. At the 
close of the War they found themselves sov- 
ereign states. Among the first endeavors of the 
new governments was the establishment of sys- 
tems of popular education, with the result that 
at the present writing (1936) illiteracy in all 
three countries is reported to have been entirely 

"liquidated" (to use the Soviet term) . 



The high degree of literacy among Chinese 
scholars has been remarked upon by visitors 
from the Western world for a millennium or 
more. Movements toward popular education 
and the universal school, however, are to be 
dated from the establishment of the Republic 
in 1905, and had reached such proportions by 
1923 that more than 1,000,000 pupils were en- 

rolled in elementary schools. By 1930 this num- 
ber had increased to nearly 11,000,000, but, in 
spite of the absolute growth, this is only 2.2 per 
cent of the estimated total population. 

It would seem, then, that as yet the surface 
has hardly been scratched except in the larger 
towns and cities, and the bulk of the population 
is in the villages. Here the problem is being at- 
tacked in many ways, one of the most promising 
of which is a movement initiated in 1922 by 
Dr. Y. C. James Yen, who had been educated 
at Yale and Princeton. Yen was a welfare 
worker among the 200,000 Chinese laborers 
who were taken to France during the World 
War to work behind the lines. These men were 
tortured by their inability to communicate with 
their homes in China. Yen devised a system of 
teaching the most essential Chinese characters, 
and through this a very large number of the 
coolies learned to read and write in a remark- 
ably short time. 

Shortly after his return to China, Yen began 

a mass attack upon illiteracy and other social 

problems in one of the provinces of North 

China. His beginning was with adolescents, 


training a large number in "people's schools." 
Many o these became teachers of children. The 
work is organized somewhat upon the Lan- 
caster-Bell pupil-teacher plan, so. that one 
teacher by first training a group up to a certain 
point can then bring in beginners who are in- 
structed by the first-comers, who, in turn, con- 
tinue to be instructed by the teacher. Thus it is 
said that one teacher is able to take charge of 
200 children. Many other types of work are 
undertaken by the graduates o the schools es- 
tablished by Yen and his friends hygienic im- 
provement, agricultural improvement, what we 
should call social-settlement work, and the like. 1 



Other backward countries have made notable 
progress toward universal education since the 
World War. In 1933 Mesopotamia, under the 
name of the Kingdom of Iraq, became a fully 
sovereign state after many years of a semi- 
sovereign status under a British mandate. It had 

1 Adapted from an apparently trustworthy report condensed from 
The Living Age and appearing in The Readers* Digest, June, 1936, 
pp. 9Sff. 


anticipated full sovereignty (which was pro- 
vided for in the early treaties) by having a 
study made in 1932 of its educational problems 
by a commission under the chairmanship of Pro- 
fessor Paul Monroe. This commission made a 
report many of the recommendations of which 
are being carried out notwithstanding the fact 
that the political situation was seriously affected 
by the untimely death of King Feisal the First 
especially untimely because of FeisaPs pan- 
Arabic leadership. 

Iraq has a very interesting and a very diffi- 
cult educational problem, which centers in the 
village schools, especially in the villages that 
are formed when nomadic tribes find it neces- 
sary to settle down and practice small-scale 
farming. This necessity is increasing, for the 
automobile and the auto-truck are rapidly put- 
ting the camel out of business, and the breeding 
of camels for the caravan trade formed the 
principal source of livelihood for the nomads. 
The parts of Iraq that lie between the Tigris 
and the Euphrates are wonderfully fertile and 
can be irrigated easily. Old ditches, some of 
which date from Babylonian times, are being 


reopened and new ditches are under construc- 
tion. In so far as material resources are con- 
cerned the problem of shifting a large propor- 
tion of the population to another occupation is 
simple enough, but not from the standpoint of 
psychology. When the nomads settle, the out- 
standing problem is an educational problem of 
the first magnitude. It is fundamentally a prob- 
lem of changing some deep-seated mores, one 
of which is a traditional disdain for the farmer, 
and another a prejudice against the use of water 
for any except the most necessary purposes 
among which personal cleanliness is not rec- 
ognized. On the desert, where the nomads live 
in hair tents and move frequently, the prejudice 
against water may not do very much harm, but 
when they settle and live in mud huts the filth 
accumulates and high death-rates follow. The 
first problem of the universal school in the vil- 
lages of Iraq is not to insure universal literacy, 
important as this is, but to teach mothers to take 
proper care of babies and to keep their homes 
clean, and to teach men to respect the work of 
farming. Literacy will follow in due course and 
is fundamentally important, for, unlike some 

educationally backward countries, the Arabic 
language of the nomads is rich in literary ma- 
terials of the highest significance. ^ 

Another serious educational problem in Iraq 
illustrates very clearly how dangerous it is to 
assume that generalizations regarding human 
affairs can be applied to all peoples. We hear a 
great deal today about the importance of reduc- 
ing the sentiments that attach to the idea of na- 
tionalism. But Iraq needs a healthy growth of 
the feeling of nationalism as much as she needs 
literacy. The loyalties of the people are tribal 
loyalties. Intertribal warfare has always been 
taken for granted among the nomads. It has 
persisted over the ages and for a reason that is 
biologically sound. It is a means of keeping the 
population within the limits of a very precarious 
food-supply. When the tribes settle, however, a 
different situation develops j and yet, just as the 
powerful mores against the use of water per- 
sist, so the tribal loyalties and enmities persist, 
making very difficult the enforcement of law 
and order making impossible, indeed, an effec- 
tive national government on a democratic basis. 


(i) INDIA 

What have colonial powers done to promote 
the universal school in their colonies? We shall 
examine briefly three cases: British India, the 
Netherlands India, and the Philippines. 

England's first and primary interest in In- 
dian education was based upon the need for 
literate natives who would be competent to fill 
governmental posts. In 1832 a decree opened 
"all offices and positions to any Indian with the 
necessary qualifications and ability, and English 
education was expected to produce a hierarchy 
of capable Indian officers which should ulti- 
mately diminish the cost of administration." 1 
The plan succeeded well and ultimately far 
too well. English enterprises were growing, 
British territories were expanding rapidly, and 
there was a ready market for the services of 
well-educated natives. Before the close of the 
nineteenth century, however, a surplus of high- 
school and university graduates had piled up, 

1 Mayhew, A.: The Education of India, London, 1926, p. 135 
quoted by Jivanayakam, D.: Training Teachers for English Schools 
in Travancore, New York, 1931, p. 8. 

and at the same time an unfortunate tradition 
had developed, namely, that educated persons 
should work only in the professions or for the 
government. For one to direct one's education 
toward practical problems or for one through 
individual initiative and enterprise to carve for 
one's self an independent career in business or 
industry was unthinkable. 1 

In the meantime England did little in the 
way of education for the villages of India, and 
in these villages live nine tenths of India's in- 
habitants and one sixth of the world's total pop- 
ulation in all 286,000,000 human beings. 2 
Writing in 1926, Olcott 8 says: 

Because of the immensity of such difficulties and the 
insufficiency of wisely co-ordinated effort to overcome 
them, the actual results so far accomplished in village 
education have been pitifully inadequate in meeting the 
demands of the situation. Low-grade men, with little 

1 The same tradition has developed in other countries where native 
illiteracy is high. Nor is It confined to the literary and classical types 
of education. In Iraq, for example, the British authorities under the 
mandate established a school of engineering and a school of agricul- 
ture. Both were well patronized as long as the government johs held 
out, but when the demand for trained engineers and trained agricul- 
turists fell off the young men would not attend the schools. And this 
in a country of very rich natural resources that are literally crying 
out for development. 

2 Olcott, M.: Village Schools and Teachers in India. Calcutta, 
1926, p. i. 

3 Olcott: Op. tit., pp. sf. 


or no training, have been left in lonely hamlets almost 
without guidance, at one of the most baffling tasks in 
the world. The government educational departments 
have directed more money and attention to town edu- 
cation than to village primary education, for the town 
schools have been closer and more responsive. The orig- 
inal hope was that, after some Indians had received 
secondary and higher education, the effects of schooling 
would automatically filter down to the masses; but such 
has not .been the case, for the academically trained men 
have prided themselves on their superiority in book 
knowledge and stayed in the more congenial surround- 
ings of the towns. Almost as a matter of course, village 
primary schools have been inspected by a lower grade 
of men than have schools of any other kind. The edu- 
cational efforts of Christian missions in the villages have 
often been directed toward having a large number of 
poor schools, rather than a smaller number of good 
institutions. However, outstanding progress has been 
made at Moga in the Punjab, and some other places. 
Other privately managed schools in the villages have 
usually been on a very flimsy basis. 

Not only has actual accomplishment been small, but 
too little constructive planning on a broad scale has 
been done. Until very recently, the tendency has been 
to neglect and slight village education as something 
unworthy of respect and sacrifice. Government reports 
have scarcely dealt with it, except in connection with 


primary education in general. Moreover, whatever val- 
uable experience has been gained in one province or 
district has been very little known in other places; 
small use has been made of the principles of progressive 
education established by other countries. Some of the 
ideas that have spread widely have been hazy and un- 
tested. The most comprehensive statement of general 
principles and plans is the work of the Commission on 
Village Education in India. 1 

It is doubtless true that substantial progress 
has been, made since Olcott's book was pub- 
lished, and especially in adjusting the work of 
the village schools to the needs o the com- 
munity, somewhat on the Mexican plan. In 
19281929 the elementary schools of India en- 
rolled 9,013,591 pupils; in 1932-1933 this 
number had increased by a half -million. The 
elementary-school enrollment, however, is still 
less than three per cent of the total population, 
or only slightly more than that of China assum- 
ing the population-estimates for the latter coun- 
try to be fairly trustworthy. 

1 The Commission was sent out by the Missionary Conference of 
Great Britain and Ireland and the Foreign Missionary Conference 
of North America. The report is of great value to all interested in 
this problem in India, and is frequently quoted. 



With the exception of a short period of Brit- 
ish occupancy Java has for three centuries or 
more been under the control of the Nether- 
lands, although not under direct governmental 
control until 1848. It is still the chief colonial 
possession of the Netherlands and the principal 
source of its wealth. 

Until the States General assumed direct con- 
trol, the natives were almost entirely neglected. 
Since that time some attention has been given 
to native education, marked by periods of reac- 
tion and neglect. Since 1906 an effort has been 
made to have a graded elementary school within 
the reach of every hamlet. This policy has been 
extended to the other islands. In 1929 the gov- 
ernment conducted in Netherlands India more 
than 12,000 village schools with an enrollment 
of nearly a million. In spite of these efforts, how- 
ever, barely three per cent of the total popula- 
tion is enrolled in the elementary schools. 



The development of popular education in the 
Philippines differs essentially from the efforts of 
England in India and of the Netherlands in the 
East Indies. The report * of the Board of Edu- 
cational Survey of the Philippine Islands, pub- 
lished in 1925, opens as follows: 

One of the most remarkable chapters in the history 
of education has been written since the opening of the 
twentieth century in the Philippine Islands. The stu- 
dent will scan the pages of history long before he will 
read of an adventure in human enlightenment more 
bold than that which has been undertaken in this orien- 
tal setting. Attribute it to the naive faith of America in 
her own institutions and ideals, or to the wisdom of a 
farseeing statesmanship, the result remains the same. 
For twenty-five years these Islands have served as a 
laboratory for an educational experiment of enormous 
magnitude and complexity. To anyone interested in the 
technical problems of classroom instruction, in the gen- 
eral administration of education, in the relation of the 
school to social conditions, in the effects flowing from 
the contacts of diverse culture, in the more abstruse 
problems of the ethnologist, or in the wider human prob- 

1 A Survey of the Educational System of the Philippine Islands. 
Manila, 1925, p. n. 


lems of the adjustment of races this experiment will 
have deep significance. 

The experiment has now been in progress for a 
quarter of a century. For almost a generation a school 
system patterned on the American plan and using Eng- 
lish as its medium of instruction has been in operation. 
Through this system a Malay people which for more 
than three centuries lived under Spanish rule has been 
introduced to Anglo-Saxon institutions and civilization. 
Through this system an effort has been made to give a 
common language to more than ten millions of people, 
divided by barriers of dialect into numerous noncom- 
municating groups. Through this system teachers have 
sought to bring to the Orient the products of modern 
scientific thought. Through this system both American 
and Filipino educational leaders have hoped to prepare 
a whole people for self-government and for bearing 
the responsibilities of effective citizenship. 

It will be noted that in the American develop- 
ment of education in the Philippines the Eng- 
lish language from the outset has been the prin- 
cipal medium of instruction. In India both 
secondary and higher education from the outset 
used English as the medium of instruction. 
Lord Macaulay, who in the early part of the 
nineteenth century was the most powerful force 

in setting the standards for education in India, 
urged "training up a class of persons, Indian in 
blood and color, but English in opinions, 
morals, and intellect." * In his judgment, "A 
single shelf of a good European library was 
worth the whole native literature of India and 
Arabia." The development of elementary 
schools since 1883, however, has laid primary 
emphasis upon instruction in the vernacular. 
The same has been true in Netherlands India. 
The policy followed in the Philippines, then, is 
unique among the colonies of the Far East. 2 It is 
defended by the Board of Educational Survey 
as follows: 

The Philippine situation is unique in three respects: 
First, in place of one language, there are numerous 
dialects. Second, there seems to be no immediate pros- 
pect of any one of the local dialects becoming supreme 
or driving out the other dialects. Third, there is little 
or no tendency toward building up a common language 
through a fusion of all or several of the dialects. Such 
a tendency may appear in time; but if so, several gen- 

1 Jivanayakam, D.: Op. cit., p. 14.. 

2 One of the early mistakes of the American educational adminis- 
tration was to have many American textbooks translated into Span- 
ish, in ignorance of the fact that for the great majority of Filipinos 
Spanish was as much of a foreign language as English. 


erations must elapse before one language can be pro- 
duced. There exists in no one of the local dialects any 
great amount of cultural literature. If this be a debata- 
ble statement, at least it may be affirmed that there 
now exists in none of them a sufficient amount of 
teachable material to form the basis of a school sys- 
tem. To provide a sufficient amount for the primary 
grades would perhaps be possible in a few years' time. 
But there would still be wanting the great amount of 
supplementary material from which the child gets most 
of his education. Furthermore, the use of dialects would 
doom the child to a narrow environment which in 
most cases would restrict his thought and his life. 

While the Report admits * that most of the 
children on leaving school do not have sufficient 
command of English to make it of practical 
value to them in adult life, the solution of the 
problem, in the judgment of the surveyors, lies 
in extending the length of school attendance. 
In spite of this and other handicaps, the growth 
of the schools has been impressive. In 1901, the 
first year for which data are available, 1 60,000 
children were enrolled in schools of all grades 5 
in 1911 the number had increased to more than 
500,0005 in 1925 the enrollment was in excess 

IP. 45- 


of i, 1 00,000 j I and in 1930 slightly larger. 2 
The elementary-school enrollment in 1930 was 
about ten per cent of the total population 5 
hence, American efforts in the Philippines have 
been three times as successful in extending ele- 
mentary education as have British efforts in 
India and the efforts of the Netherlands in its 
East Indian possessions. As a result of the Sur- 
vey, too, the curriculum is now much better 
adapted to the needs of the children and of the 
local communities than was the case in the 
earlier years of American occupancy. 

1 Report of Survey, p. 14. 

2 3ist Annual Report of the Director of Education. Manila, 1930, 
p. 1 06. 




WE RETURN now to our own country 
and to a development of the universal school 
that is unprecedented in history and unparal- 
leled elsewhere. Reference is made, of course, 
to the upward expansion of mass education in 
the United States since the turn of the century. 
Today in certain states and in many cities sec- 
ondary education is as nearly universal as was 
elementary education a generation ago. When 
I was a high-school pupil in Detroit in 1890, a 
single central school building accommodating 
about 400 pupils was sufficient to supply high- 
school privileges for all who wished to secure 
them at public expense. A decade later Detroit 
had three large cosmopolitan high schools. The 
same growth characterized practically all of the 


larger cities of the country. It is interesting to 
note that Dr. Knight's thesis is illustrated by this 
development, for the decade from 1890 to 1900 
was marked by an economic depression of the first 
magnitude, beginning with the financial panic 
of 1893. 

The upward expansion of universal educa- 
tion has brought with it some very complicated 
problems- As long as an educational system is 
highly selective as long as it can reject those 
persons who are not adapted by nature or nurture 
or both to the program of studies that it offers 
and the methods of instruction that it employs 
the life of the school and the work of the 
teachers may proceed pleasantly enough. When 
such a system becomes non-selective, however 
when it admits and attempts to keep through 
its period of instruction all who come the tasks 
of the teacher and the curriculum-maker become 
extremely difficult. It is, I think, significant that 
professorships of education in colleges and uni- 
versities had only a slight beginning before the 
decade in which the high schools started their 
policy of non-selection. Professors of education 
came into being, so to speak, because of a de- 

mand from the high schools that the colleges 
prepare teachers to teach groups of widely vary- 
ing mentality. 

By far the most serious problem of American 
education today, in my judgment, is to provide 
kinds of instruction that will make it socially 
profitable to keep in school the types of young 
people who, under a simpler form of social and 
economic life, would be wage-earners by the 
age of fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen. It is all 
very well to say that these persons should be in 
overalls and aprons doing the routine work of 
the world. But the routine work of the world is 
being done in larger and larger measure and 
with greater and greater efficiency by machine- 
slaves, in many cases automatically controlled. 
In fact, the development of these slaves has been 
a primary cause of the vast upward expansion 
of mass education in our country. The only oc- 
cupations that grew in significant numbers dur- 
ing the third decade of the twentieth century 
were those in which the work could not be done 
by machines those, in other words, which re- 
quired either human service or human judg- 
ment and human deliberation. Education is be- 


lieved to be the one means of developing these 
abilities; hence, with the increasing decline in 
occupational opportunities on the routine levels 
the enrollments in the secondary schools and 
colleges mounted conspicuously. 

There are those who would curb this growth, 
but this seems impossible unless we go back to 
a simpler social order and scrap especially the 
automatic machine. The problem apparently is 
inescapable. And it is very serious, for with the 
upward expansion of the universal school to and 
through the secondary level standards have 
necessarily been relaxed and young people of 
superaverage ability suffer severely. The gen- 
eral situation is intensified by a parallel lower- 
ing of standards in the elementary school, with 
a strong tendency in many parts of the country 
to promote all pupils on schedule with the re- 
sult that, instead of having retarded children 
piling up in the middle grades we now have 
pupils essentially illiterate piling up in the high 
^chools. Our national experience indicates that 
universal education on the secondary level can 
be socially a very expensive and a relatively in- 
effective process. Our elementary system is now 

so weak, due in part to the lowering o stand- 
ards, that school children in other English- 
speaking countries, age for age, do far better 
than American children on achievement tests 
standardized in this country. 

It would seem an easy matter to solve this 
problem, yet of the many systems of catering 
to different mental abilities such as homogene- 
ous grouping, individual instruction, three-track 
plans, and the like none is outstanding as a 
substitute for the traditional class with a first- 
rate teacher. 

When we pass to other civilized countries, we 
must bear in mind that none of them has at- 
tempted to make secondary education universal, 
and consequently that the secondary school has 
been a selective institution in practically every 
case. With a single notable exception no one of 
them has permitted the elementary-school 
standards to fall so low as the standards of the 
American elementary school in general have 



J\S TO the probable results of mass 
education in other countries much could be said. 
One refers to "probable" results, because it is 
never safe to generalize in any field in which 
the human element enters as a factor, and fost- 
hoc-ergo-^roper-hoc arguments are always 
dangerous. However, when one looks at such 
countries as England, Scotland, and especially 
Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, 
and compares them with what they were before 
the ferment of the universal school began to 
work, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that 
universal education has had very much to do in 
effecting the change. The general enlighten- 
ment of the masses in the Scandinavian coun- 
tries is clearly traceable to the schools. All the 
countries just named have been peculiarly free 

from internal dissensions involving violence. 
The crime ratios in the oldest of these countries 
are far below those that prevailed before the 
advent of universal education, and it is reason- 
able to believe that the school has been a factor 
in reducing crime and in developing a funda- 
mental respect for law and order. 

In France, where, as we have seen, universal 
elementary education dates from 1880, there 
has been a reduction not only of illiteracy but of 
serious crime and other social ills. The amount 
and character of the reading of the masses is 
clearly apparent from the statistics of book pub- 
lication, and has been noted by several observers, 
including a distinguished American scholar who 
had the opportunity to compare the reading of 
the typical French soldier and the typical Amer- 
ican soldier following the Armistice. 1 It is gen- 
erally agreed by students of comparative educa- 
tion that the French school system is extremely 
effective in getting what it sets out to get, and 
particularly a mastery of the mother tongue. At 

1 The opinion cited is that of Professor John Erskine, of Colum- 
bia University, one of the three Americans in charge of the educa- 
tional work with the American Expeditionary Forces after the 
Treaty of Versailles. The statement has been made with the courte- 
ous permission of Professor Erskine. 


the same time the system has characteristics that 
would be highly disapproved by a majority of 
American educational leaders: extreme uniform- 
ity, for example, and a high degree of cen- 
tralized control. 

Reference has already been made to the prob- 
able effect of the universal school in Germany 
during the first seven decades of the nineteenth 
century, and to the unfortunate change in the 
ideals of elementary education that came about 
gradually but certainly with the development of 
imperialism. It is none the less true that, even 
under these conditions, the schools played an 
all-important part in giving to the German peo- 
ple and their armies the qualities which in the 
World War enabled them to stand out so long 
against the impact of numerically superior 
forces. During the era of the Republic the 
standards of elementary education were dis- 
tinctly lowered and the discipline of the uni- 
versal school was softened some maintain with 
results that were a factor in bringing about the 
dictatorship. However true this may be, the 
Hitler regime is taking no chances. Heil 
Filhrer! is as fundamentally the slogan of the 

educational forces as it is of the army and navy. 

It is noteworthy that Germany and Austria 
are so far the only highly literate countries to 
give up parliamentary government and yield to 
dictators. This leads to the suggestion that uni- 
versal education is probably essential to a demo- 
cratic form of government when the franchise 
approaches universality, but that the universal 
school does not guarantee an effective democ- 
racy. The Poles and Czechs are neighbors and 
probably ethnically related. Illiterate Poland 
tried the parliamentarian form of government 
after the World War, but had to give it up and 
yield to a dictator, Czechoslovakia, with its 
traditions of Comenius, has been peaceful and 
prosperous under a Parliament. 

Japan's school system has doubtless been a 
powerful factor in her development during the 
past two generations. Like France, Japan shows 
a high reading rate for the masses and her crime 
rates are relatively low. The Japanese immi- 
grants to the United States are "among our 
most law-abiding" of all population groups. 1 

1 National [Wickersham] Commission on Law Observance and 
Enforcement: Report on Crime and the Foreign Born. Washington, 
1931, p. 415. 


Japan's schools are and have been turned to the 
preservation of Japanese supremacy} they de- 
liberately teach children to respect their country 
and its institutions. We may disagree with the 
particular aims, but the school's work is clearly 
effective, and that is the theme of the present 
discussion. Japan got into trouble with Russia 
about thirty years ago. Its armies were victori- 
ous in a very short time. It is said that when the 
Russian prisoners were admitted to the Japa- 
nese prison camps, a search was made for a Rus- 
sian who could read and write his own language, 
and if one was found he was made teacher over 
the rest. 





/NIVERSAL education has been criti- 
cized and even condemned for failing to do 
certain things to prevent war, for example. 
Now I hope that the school will make every 
effort to show each generation the dangers and 
some of the horrors of armed conflict* But 
neither the school nor any other social influence 
will, in my judgment, abolish war until man- 
kind reaches a point where national populations 
do not grow beyond certain limits. Wars have 
other causes, and these may be effectively dealt 
with by education, but the basic cause of war is 
overpopulation and the need of getting new 
sources of food supplies, or new markets for 
manufacture, or lands in which a country's 


young people may find careers. This was Japan's 
motive for wishing to occupy Korea early in the 
present century, thus bringing on war with Rus- 
sia 5 it was her motive in occupying Manchuria 
and forming the state of Manchukuo; it was her 
motive in the warlike conduct that has more re- 
cently occurred in western Manchuria. 

Children may be taught many things that 
may help to reduce the number of wars. They 
can be taught that an insistence upon certain so- 
called rights when other countries are at war is 
likely to get our own country into the mess. 
Some would urge that pupils be taught that 
wars never accomplish anything; and this is all 
right if one has no compunction about teaching 
untruths. A. G. Keller states the case in this 

That war has lasted on, as slavery did, is by reason 
of its historical actual utility. It has done things for 
society that nothing else could have done, for it has 
power. Its commanding function has been that of se- 
lector among the mores. War, ever the last resort in 
settling disputes, has always been effective. That point 
should not be allowed to escape. Things have not been 
the same afterward. The person who reiterates that 

war accomplishes nothing does not know his his- 
tory. . * .* 

Another criticism that has been made of the 
universal school in the United States is that it 
has failed to work for changes in the social 
order, chiefly for changes in the system of capi- 
talism, many of which I believe to be inevitable. 
The discussion is somewhat beyond the point in 
so far as the lower schools are concerned, for 
the changes will doubtless be made before the 
children now in the lower schools become the 
dominant generation. These problems should be 
subjects of instruction and discussion in the later 
classes of the high school, in the college, in the 
junior college, and in the adult classes which 
are spreading so rapidly. (Indeed, the junior 
college and adult education may represent the 
type of educational progress that is coming out 
of the recent depression.) 

By some of those who wish the schools to 
help change the social order it is proposed that 
the advantages of their particular changes 
should be stressed in comparison with the dis- 

1 Keller, A. G.: Man's Rough Road. New York and New Haven, 
> ? I 53- Quoted by courteous permission of the publishers. 


advantages (if any) or the virtues (if any) in 
the older social order. In other words, it is pro- 
posed to indoctrinate the learner in favor of one 
side of a controversial issue. The alleged justifi- 
cation is stated to lie in the fact that the old 
order has already been abundantly indoctrinated 
and that the use of the schools for the advantage 
of the new order is only fair play. 

My own opinion is that in the junior high 
school every side of a controversial issue that 
has a numerically respectable following should 
be given fair treatment by the teacher, and that 
in the senior high school, college, junior col- 
lege, and adult classes representatives of the 
two (or several) sides should be encouraged to 
present their claims. In the elementary school, 
if questions come up regarding controversial 
issues, they should be answered as briefly and 
as fairly as possible. The bulk of the time, how- 
ever, should be devoted to giving the pupils in- 
struction and training in matters that are not 
controversial but fundamental. This, of course, 
is rank heresy under the dominant theory of 
American education, which does not believe that 
there are any fundamentals or that there is any- 

thing in the nature of an eternal value which 
should become an essential part in the education 
of the young. 

That the schools have been affected to an un- 
warranted degree by vested interests or other 
representatives of the capitalistic system is true 
in spots, but not to my knowledge on anything 
approaching a nationwide basis. Organized labor 
has certainly had a share of influence over school 
affairs which would tend in many cases to offset 
capitalistic influence. Generally speaking, it is 
the people through elected boards of education 
who have governed the schools democratically 
if not always wisely. Many will remember what 
a furor there was when a congressional investi- 
gation proved that the Power Trust was at- 
tempting through educational institutions to in- 
doctrinate an opposition against the public 
ownership of public utilities. There has been a 
very noisy resistance in some quarters against 
the teaching of the meaning of Communism in 
the schools. Of course, this should be resisted by 
the profession, not merely because it is an un- 
warranted invasion of freedom of teaching but 
because it is unfortunate for society to have a 

generation not well instructed on this most inter- 
esting and important social movement. Inci- 
dentally, the teacher might well point out that 
there has never been a reasonably pure form of 
Communism, except among primitive peoples. 
The nomadic tribes of the deserts in Asia and 
Africa are essentially communistic, for Com- 
munism is a form of social and economic life 
well adapted to desert conditions. Russia is not 
fully communistic, however, and in many ways 
less so today than when the present government 
was established. The approach to the ideal of 
equal rewards for all workers at the outset was 
in a ratio of two to one the highest paid work- 
ers received twice as much as the lowest paid. 
Today the ratio is ten to one, and for some 
workers curiously enough, writers and artists 
there is no limit to what one may earn. 

All in all, American teachers have more free- 
dom of teaching than do the teachers of any 
other country except Great Britain and her over- 
seas dominions. The same is true generally of 
curriculum-makers and textbook writers. In pre- 
paring a series of textbooks in history for ele- 
mentary schools I collaborated as junior author 


with Charles A. Beard. Dr. Beard was never 
given by our publishers, or other "outside" in- 
terests, directions as to what to put into the 
books. I happened to be working on a revision 
of one of the books at the time when an ignorant 
and noisy mayor of Chicago charged that King 
George was bribing our schoolbook authors. It 
was "money from London," as reprehensible 
then as "money from Moscow" is now. I let it 
be known that the book was under revision for 
I thought it would be a noble gesture to show 
His Majesty's emissary the door, but whether 
or not the emissary got the word he did not put 
in an appearance. I may say that, with the ex- 
ception of a section on the Socialist Party which 
prevented several adoptions just after the 
World War, the book has not, to my knowledge, 
led to any serious criticism regarding the views 
set forth, although Dr. Beard, as is well known, 
is a highly liberal thinker and a forceful and 
courageous writer. 



WE HAVE traced the development of 
universal education from its first really effective 
start in Germany to its recent establishment in 
such once backward countries as Russia, Turkey, 
Mexico, India, Netherlands India, the Philip- 
pines, and Iraq. We have followed the remark- 
able upward expansion of mass education in the 
United States and have outlined some of the diffi- 
cult problems which this movement has brought 
with it j we have attempted to evaluate the results 
of the universal school in this country, in several 
countries of Europe, and in Japan 5 we have called 
attention to two serious criticisms of the uni- 
versal school in so far as its results are con- 
cerned. Our conclusion is that it has been gen- 
erally successful in realizing the purposes which 
control it, but that, like any other powerful 


force, it can be used to further aims that many 
people believe to be reactionary or evil or both. 
The relative inefficiency of the universal 
school in the United States and its apparently 
increasing ineffectiveness may well cause general 
concern. It should be pointed out, however, that 
the American school has not been a negative 
force. In so far as I can learn after many years' 
study of the problem, there is no causal rela- 
tionship between the weakness of the schools 
and the prevalence of serious crime, the high 
divorce rates, and other unsavory characteristics 
of our civilization. The school has been affected 
by the same weakening forces that have per- 
mitted most Americans to remain unconcerned 
in the face of high crime ratios and serious 
political corruption 5 for example, the mores 
which protect extreme localism in the control of 
government and the mores which reflect an ex- 
treme individualism which has permitted grave 
abuses to creep into certain phases of business. 
There has been a most wholesome improvement 
in the administration of justice sindb the Federal 
government, through Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, 
demonstrated that criminals can be caught, 


tried, and punished speedily and effectively. But 
there is still a strong prejudice against the cen- 
tralization of authority and responsibility in the 
protection and advancement o the common 
good, as we recently witnessed and shall witness 
still more in the coming months. 

Another vital factor in reducing the potential 
efficiency of the American public school has been 
the low standards of training for teachers that 
have prevailed until very recently. This situa- 
tion, fortunately, is rapidly being corrected, but 
there remains a most unfortunate condition 
which makes for educational inefficiency 5 
namely, the very great mobility of the teaching 
personnel. This is caused in part by the gross 
inequalities among American communities as to 
the ability to retain good teachers by paying 
them attractive wages, and the consequent mi- 
gration of the better teachers toward the 
wealthier communities. Then, too, administra- 
tion and supervision are far more generously re- 
warded than is classroom teaching, and the 
transfer of a teacher from the classroom to an 
office is regarded practically everywhere as a 
promotion. Another very serious handicap is the 

custom of referring to the teacher in elementary 
and high schools always in the feminine gender 
the teacher she. This makes the profession un- 
attractive to men. Indeed, in no other country 
that I know of is the feminine pronoun used 
when the antecedent is "teacher" in a generic 

In so far as our own country is concerned an 
outstanding problem of the immediate future 
will be to correct the weaknesses due not so 
much to the deficient education of the teacher 
as to the impermanence of the teacher. This 
means inducing more men to enter and remain 
in the elementary- and high-school service. It 
means a continuous attack upon the rural-school 
problem to the end that our proud boast of 
equality of educational opportunity may become 
something more than the empty slogan that it 
is now in so many states. It means the framing 
of programs and curricula for the high schools 
that will be adjustable to the varying abilities of 
the heterogeneous groups now in attendance and 
so make high-school teaching something other 
than the nightmare that it now is in all too many 


As I have studied the problem of the uni- 
versal school in countries ranging from the most 
backward to the most enlightened, I have gradu- 
ally come to the conclusion that the problems 
confronting the teacher increase in difficulty as 
civilization advances. But I am not discouraged. 
From its inception the universal school has al- 
ways been a challenge to our profession. The 
challenge increases in intensity as universality 
climbs up the age-scale. The situation now re- 
flects a degree of difficulty and complexity that 
should stimulate the interest and the efforts of 
the most competent members of each genera- 



Alderman, E. A., 36 
Aycock, C. B., 36 

Barcenias, L, 43 
Barnard, H., 33 
Beard, C. A., 77 
Bell, A., I off. 
Bowman, I., I 

British and Foreign Society, 
for control of schools, 12 

Canada, education in, I4f. 
Capitalism w. Communism, 

Carney, M., 42 

China, education in, 45 ff. 
Colonies of colonial powers, 

5 iff. 

Combe, G., 33 
Comenius, 25ff., 32, 34, 69 
Communism vs. capitalism, 

Controversial issues, teaching 

of, 73 ff. 
Cousin, V., 8 
Czechoslovakia, education in, 

2 S ff. 

Dabney, C. W., 34, 37, 38 
Danish Folk High Schools, 


Democracy, and education, 4 
Denmark, education in, l8ff. 
Depressions, and educational 

advances, 3 off. 
Diesterweg, F. W. A., 6 

Education, and democracy, 
4; universal, to 1900, iff. 
Erskine, J., 67 
Estonia, education in, 45 

Fichte, J. G., 2, 4, 6 

Federal land-grants for 
schools, 3 if. 

Feisal, King, 48 

Financial depressions, and 
educational advances, 30ff. 

Finland, education in, 23f. 

Finney, R. L., 21, 23 

Folk High Schools in Den- 
mark, igf. 

France, education in, 8ff.; 

influence of education in, 

6 7 f. 

Frederick the Great, 2 
Frederick William III, 6 

Gambetta, L., 9 

Gamio, 42 

Gastelum, B., 44 

Germany, education in, ,3, 
4ff.; influence of educa- 
tion in, 68f.; universal 
education in, 2 

Graham, A., 37 

Grundtvig, N. F. S., I9ff. 

Harvard College, and Come- 

nius, 26 
High school, growth of in 

United States, 6 iff. 
Hoover, J. E., 79 
Huxley, T. H.', 35 

Iceland, education in, 1 7 
India, education in, 5 iff. 
Industrial revolution, and 

education, 3 
Iraq, education in, 47ff. 

Japan, education in, 27f.; 

influence of education in, 


Jefferson, T., 29, 34 
Jivanayakam, D,, 51,58 
Johnson, D. B., 37, 38 


Kandel, I. L., 29 
Keller, A. G., 72, 73 
Kemal, M., 40 
Knight, E. W., 30, 62 
Knox, J., 13 

Komensky, J. A. (Come- 

Lancaster, J., loff. 
Land-grants for schools, 3 if . 
Latin America, education in, 


Latvia, education in, 45 
Literacy, in ancient civiliza- 

tions, I 

Lithuania, education in, 45 
Luther, Martin, 25; and 

education, 3 

McIver,C.D., 37 
Macaulay, Lord, 57 
Mann, H., 296% 3 iff., 33, 


Maryland, education in, 37 
Masaryk, T. G., 27 
Mather, C., 26 
Mayhew, A., 5 1 
Melanchthon, Philip, and 

education, 3 
Mendellin, R., 44 
Mexico, education in, 41 ff. 
Moltke, Count von, 7 

Monitorial system of in- Quebec, education in, 1 5 

struction, loff. Quintana, S., 3, 43 
Monroe, P., 48 

Monroe, W. S., 26 Ramirez, M., 43 

Rangel, R., 43 

Napoleon HI, jf . Reformation, educational in- 

Napoleon, and Pestalozzi, 5 fluence of, 3 

Netherlands, education in, 3, Russia, education in, 28f . 


Netherlands India, educa- Sarmiento, D. F., 29 

tion in, 55 Scandinavian countries, edu- 

New England, education in, cation in, i$S. 

3 Scotland, education in, 3, 

Newfoundland, education I3f.; universal education 

in, 15 in, 2 

New Zealand, education in, Sunday School Union, in 

15 England, 10 

Normal schools, establish- Sweden, education in, 3, 

ment of in Massachusetts, ijf.; universal education 

32ff. in, 2 

Norway, education in, 1 8 Switzerland,* education in, 

Obregon, A., 41 

Olcott, M., 52, 54 Turkey, education in, 395. 

Ontario, education in, I4f. 

Varela, 29 

Pestalozzi, J. H., 46% 20 

Philippine Islands, educa- War, and education, 7 iff. 

tion in, 56ff. 

Protestant Reformation, and Yen, Y. C. J,, 46f . 

education, 13 Young, R. F,, 26 
Prussia, universal education 

in, 2